Ryan Howard hits his 200th homer

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Ryan Howard hit his 200th career home run, reaching the milestone in fewer games than any player in major league history:

The 29-year-old Howard hit his 23rd homer of the season in the sixth
inning to reach the 200 milestone in 658 games, fewer than any player
in major league history. Ralph Kiner, previously the fastest player to
reach 200 home runs, did it in 706 games.

“It’s a nice feat,” Howard said. “It’s a nice record to have. I’ll take it and run with it.”

He won’t run nearly as far as he could have, however, because after
“200,” the second most significant number in that paragraph is “29.” As
in Howard’s age, which is pretty advanced for a slugger with his
talents to be getting his 200th home run. Howard did not play a full
season in the bigs until 2006, when he was 26. This despite the fact
that he went .291/.380/.637 with 46 home runs in 131 games between AA
and AAA in 2004. As of now, he’s roughly the same age as Albert Pujols,
but 150 home runs behind him.

Not that raw home run totals matter too terribly much in the grand
scheme of things. It’s just that Howard kind of fascinates me as a
player, and he’s someone whom I would have liked to have seen in the
bigs earlier than I did.

Three A’s rookies hit their first big league home runs on Saturday

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The Athletics followed Friday’s 3-0 shutout with a rookie-led home run derby on Saturday afternoon, watching not one, not two, but three rookies belt their first major league home runs off of the White Sox’ James Shields.

Right fielder Matt Olson was the first to strike, taking Shields deep on a first-pitch, two-run blast in the first inning for his first home run in 49 major league plate appearances:

Fellow outfielder Jaycob Brugman duplicated his teammate’s results in the second inning with a solo home run, his first extra-base hit of any kind since he made his debut on June 9:

In the third, with a comfortable 4-0 lead backing two scoreless frames from Oakland right-hander Daniel Gossett, Franklin Barreto took his shot at Shields. After getting the call several hours prior to Saturday’s game, he became the fastest of the three rookies to record his first big league homer, going yard on a 2-2 changeup and driving in Bruce Maxwell to give the A’s a six-run advantage.

The Athletics currently lead the White Sox 8-2 in the top of the sixth inning.

Athletics call up top prospect Franklin Barreto

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The Athletics called up their top prospect on Saturday, inserting shortstop Franklin Barreto into the lineup for their second game against the White Sox. Barreto was originally scheduled to make his major league debut on Sunday, but got a head start after Jed Lowrie sustained a minor knee sprain in Friday’s 3-0 win and was scratched from Saturday’s lineup.

Barreto, 21, has been rapidly climbing the rungs of the A’s minor league system after getting dealt by the Blue Jays in 2014. He got his first taste of Triple-A action late last year, going 6-for-17 with three RBI and getting caught stealing in two attempts. He fared little better this spring, slashing .281/.326/.428 with eight home runs and a .754 OPS through his first 309 PA in Nashville.

While his minor league production has been solid, if underwhelming for a prospect of his caliber, the A’s are expected to give the rookie infielder a long leash with both Marcus Semien and Chad Pinder sitting on the disabled list. Pinder landed on the 10-day DL after suffering a left hamstring strain on Friday. Semien, meanwhile, is still working his way back from the 60-day DL with a right wrist fracture and likely won’t rejoin the team until he completes a rehab assignment with High-A Stockton.